Why this generation of teens is more likely to care about gun violence


Jean Twenge, San Diego State University

When 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it was just the latest in a tragic list of mass shootings, many of them at schools.

Then something different happened: Teens began to speak out. The Stoneman Douglas students held a press conference appealing for gun control. Teens in Washington, D.C., organized a protest in front of the White House, with 17 lying on the ground to symbolize the lives lost. More protests organized by teens are planned for the coming months.

Teens weren’t marching in the streets calling for gun control after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. So why are today’s teens and young adults – whom I’ve dubbed “iGen” in my recent book on this generation – speaking out and taking action?

With mass shootings piling up one after another, this is a unique historical moment. But research shows that iGen is also a unique generation – one that may be especially sensitive to gun violence.

Keep me safe

People usually don’t think of teenagers as risk-averse. But for iGen, it’s been a central tenant of their upbringing and outlook.

During their childhoods, they experienced the rise of the helicopter parent, anti-bullying campaigns and, in some cases, being forced to ride in car seats until age 12.

Their behavior has followed suit. For my book, I conducted analyses of large, multi-decade surveys. I found that today’s teens are less likely to get into physical fights and less likely to get into car accidents than teens just 10 years ago. They’re less likely to say they like doing dangerous things and aren’t as interested in taking risks. Meanwhile, since 2000, rates of teen binge drinking have fallen by half.

With the culture so focused on keeping children safe, many teens seem incredulous that extreme forms of violence against kids can still happen – and yet so many adults are unwilling to address the issue.

“We call on our national and state legislatures to finally act responsibly and reduce the number of these tragic incidents,” said Eleanor Nuechterlein and Whitney Bowen, the teen organizers of the D.C. lie-in. “It’s essential that we all feel safe in our classrooms.”

Treated with kid gloves

In a recent analysis of survey data from 8 million teens since the 1970s, I also found that today’s teens tend to delay a number of “adult” milestones. They’re less likely than their predecessors to have a driver’s license, go out without their parents, date, have sex, and drink alcohol by age 18.

This could mean that, compared to previous generations, they’re more likely to think of themselves as children well into their teen years.

As 17-year-old Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg put it, “We’re children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action.”

Furthermore, as this generation has matured, they’ve witnessed stricter age regulations for young people on everything from buying cigarettes (with the age minimum raised to 21 in several states) to driving (with graduated driving laws).

Politicians and parents have been eager to regulate what young people can and can’t do. And that’s one reason some of the survivors find it difficult to understand why gun purchases aren’t as regulated.

“If people can’t purchase marijuana or alcohol at the age of 18, why should they be given access to guns?” asked Stoneman Douglas High School junior Lyliah Skinner.

She has a point: The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is 19. Under Florida’s laws, he could legally possess a firearm at age 18. But – because he’s under 21 – he couldn’t buy alcohol.

Libertarianism – with limits

At the same time, iGen teens – like their millennial predecessors – are highly individualistic. They believe the rights of the individual should trump traditional social rules. For example, I found that they’re more supportive of same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana than previous generations were at the same age.

Their political beliefs tend to lean toward libertarianism, a philosophy that favors individual rights over government regulations, including gun regulation. Sure enough, support for protecting gun rights increased among millennials and iGen between 2007 and 2016.

But even a libertarian ideologue would never argue that individual freedom extends to killing others. So perhaps today’s teens are realizing that one person’s loosely regulated gun rights can lead to another person’s death – or the death of 17 of their teachers and classmates.

The teens’ demands could be seen as walking this line: They’re not asking for wholesale prohibitions on all guns. Instead, they’re hoping for reforms supported by most Americans such as restricting the sale of assault weapons and more stringent background checks.

In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the teens’ approach to activism – peaceful protest, a focus on safety and calls for incremental gun regulation – are fitting for this generation.

The ConversationPerhaps iGen will lead the way to change.

Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Violent politics and the disintegration of democracy in Cambodia


Caroline Bennett, Victoria University of Wellington

Kem Sokha, the leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was charged with treason last week, amid allegations of conspiring with a foreign power to overthrow the government.

In all likelihood, the charges mean the imminent dissolution of the main opposition party, leaving the ruling party – the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) – the only real contender in next year’s general elections.

The charges are the latest in the rolling back of democratic processes in the nation. They also reflect a shift in global democracy.

Destroying democracy

The latest development follows a pattern that has included alleged electoral intimidation in the recent commune elections, media suppression, and increasing threats of violence and conflict should the opposition win.

In the last three weeks, 17 radio providers that gave airtime to the opposition and aired programs produced by the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia – two Washington-based outlets that often include political critique – have had their licences revoked.

Last Monday, The Cambodia Daily, an English-language newspaper renowned for hard-hitting journalism, closed after 24 years, after being hit with an unaudited tax bill of US$6.3 million, with no course of appeal.


Read more: Cambodia Daily closure a major blow for freedom of information and expression in the country


In August, the National Democratic Institute’s office in Cambodia was forced to close, and its foreign staff were deported, following alleged infringement of the Law on Associations and Non-governmental Organisations (LANGO). This law was passed earlier this year, severely restricting the rights of civil society actors across the nation.

These actions are largely agreed to be manoeuvres to consolidate the political power of the CPP under the increasingly autocratic rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who, following Sokha’s arrest, has declared he will rule for another ten years.

The violence of Hun Sen

My research shows that Cambodian politics has always been a sphere of violence, but that since the 1993 UN-backed elections, it has happened under a veneer of liberal democracy.

According to Human Rights Watch, Hun Sen has the worst human rights record of any “democratic” leader.

Although his party lost the 1993 elections, he forced a coalition, before seizing power after violent clashes in 1997. Elections since then have been plagued by accusations of fraud, corruption and voter intimidation. Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard is implicated in much public violence, including brutal beatings of political opponents.

But these current moves are happening in increasingly public spaces. Their intensification appears to be aimed at preventing a replay of the shock results of the 2013 general elections, when the ruling party lost 22 seats to the CNRP, giving the ruling party its lowest share of seats since 1998.

2013: the beginning of the end

I was in Cambodia for the 2013 elections doing research for my PhD on the legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime. My work involved examining contemporary Cambodian politics.

The success of the opposition took many of us by surprise. Despite the allegations of fraud and corruption, the result seemed promising for its indication of free voting – there was hope that it marked a positive move for democracy. But among threats of civil conflict and unrest, the result also provoked tension.

Protests occurred in the capital, and several people were shot. Rumours started to circulate that Hun Sen had mobilised the army and that the deputy prime minister, Sok An, was planning a coup. Fear and tension bubbled below the surface for many of the people I was working with.

Hun Sen has repeatedly threatened civil war should he lose the elections. His threats are grounded in the all-too-well-remembered violent history of the Khmer Rouge, when up to 1.7 million people were killed.

In 2011, following the Arab Spring, Hun Sen threatened to kill anyone resisting his rule. Earlier this year he said:

To ensure the lives of millions of people, we are willing to eliminate 100 or 200 people.

Some in Cambodia fear he will be true to his word. It seems unlikely that Hun Sen will let the 2018 election result get as close as it did in 2013. After all, he has never shunned the threat of violence as a means of control.

Hun Sen also has the support of Tep Vong, supreme patriarch of the Cambodian Buddhist sect of Mohanikay. He has previously condoned controlling the freedom of the people, thereby ensuring spiritual legitimacy as well as political impunity for Hun Sen’s actions.

Global shifts in despotism, crumbling democracies

The moves towards media control and suppression of the opposition parallel turns across the globe. They reflect the rolling back of democracy and a rise of autocratic leaders in so-called democratic countries.

In April this year, a referendum in Turkey voted for constitutional reforms that give President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan single-handed rule with the right to pass new laws and dissolve parliament at will.

This legislation followed the failed coup in 2016. In the subsequent crackdown thousands of journalists, academics and lawmakers were jailed, and at least 156 media outlets forced to close. Turkey now has more journalists in prison than any other nation.


Read more: Turkey’s constitutional referendum: experts express fear for a divided country


Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted murder, threatened killings of drug dealers (and likened himself to Hitler in the process) and said he would pass political impunity laws to protect himself. More than 7,000 people have reportedly been killed in the last year.

In Poland, the ruling party passed legislation restricting the freedom of the press and giving itself increasing control of the courts. Only the prime minister’s signature is needed for action.

According to US think tank Freedom House, 2016 was:

… characterised by an erosion of democratic institutions and a rise of autocratic practices across the globe.

Political violence, open suppression

Violence in politics is not new. The control of the people in Cambodia is not new. What is new is the increasing confidence of leaders, such as Hun Sen, to flex their political muscles openly and violently with complete confidence in their political impunity.

Cambodia is often heralded as a nation with an exciting future due to high levels of investment and development support. But the success of its peace and democracy is openly crumbling.

The ConversationThe CPP needs a powerful opposition to prevent complete disintegration of democracy and human rights. It’s making sure that is not possible.

Caroline Bennett, Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology, Victoria University of Wellington

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Nigeria: Boko Haram on the Rampage


The link below is to an article reporting on recent violence in Nigeria linked to Boko Haram.

For more visit:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/22/nigeria-violence-boko-haram

Tanzania: Persecution News


The link below is to an article reporting on religious violence on Zanzibar, Tanzania.

For more visit:
http://allafrica.com/stories/201304030308.html